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Gender: Male
Home country: USA
Current location: PA
Member since: Wed May 11, 2005, 09:48 PM
Number of posts: 10,659

About Me

I love spending time with my grandchildren and gardening.

Journal Archives

Leaked video reveals a GOP plan to intimidate Black and brown voters in Houston

Leaked video reveals a GOP plan to intimidate Black and brown voters in Houston
Republicans propose "Election Integrity Brigade" specifically targeting Black and brown neighborhoods in Houston


Today's Jim Crow Republicans have mated white supremacy and neofascism, in search of creating something like Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin's "managed democracy." The result is a horrible mixture of right-wing racial authoritarianism and anti-democratic fervor. In their attempt to create a new type of American apartheid, the Republicans and their agents are willing to use all means available, legal, quasi-legal or illegal.

As revealed Thursday by Common Cause Texas, the Republican Party in Harris County — which contains Houston and is the third most-populous county in the nation — is planning to organize what is described as an "Election Integrity Brigade" of thousands of pro-GOP election workers and poll watchers. This group of Republican operatives will be sent into predominantly Black and brown communities to engage in de facto acts of voter intimidation and harassment under the pretext of stopping "voter fraud.

This "Election Integrity Brigade" will be a permanent group, not just a list of volunteers called out during election season. As explained by the Republican official who conducted the briefing obtained by Common Cause Texas, the goal is to also recruit poll watchers and other volunteers through "military partnerships." Such a plan is especially troubling given Donald Trump's coup attempt and his followers' attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6 and the prominent role played by retired or active members of the military and law enforcement.

In an evident nod to racist fears and bigotry, Harris County Republican leaders explains that these poll watchers must have "courage" and "confidence" to do such work in Houston's Black and Latino communities.


I offer a thought experiment. What if Black and brown people who support the Democratic Party started going into majority-white suburban neighborhoods where many people vote Republican, and acted as poll watchers who were trying to stop voter fraud? Given that there is much more reason to monitor Republicans for efforts to undermine, steal or nullify elections, there might actually be a legitimate need for such vigilance in white neighborhoods.

But how would white people react to that idea? Moreover, what if the Democrats were to take power across the country on the state and local level and then impose the same kinds of limitations, in an obvious attempt to interfere with conservative white people's right to vote? What do you suppose would happen then? At the barest minimum, many of the same voices now trying to minimize the danger represented by the Jim Crow Republicans' attack on voting rights would howl in outrage.

Trump's Big Lie and Hitler's: Is this how America's slide into totalitarianism begins?

Trump's Big Lie and Hitler's: Is this how America's slide into totalitarianism begins?
Hitler undermined democracy by lying about World War I; Trumpists want to do it by lying about the 2020 election

It is a question I often hear people ask during conversations about the rise of Adolf Hitler: If I had been alive in Germany when the Nazis took power, would I have had the courage to side against them?

Thanks to the 2020 presidential election, there is now a convenient way to answer that query. Hitler rose to power because he told a Big Lie. Millions of people believed that Big Lie because they held more sinister beliefs; millions more likely didn't believe it, but weren't willing to denounce it as an outright lie at the time.

The same dynamic is true regarding Donald Trump's claim that Joe Biden stole the election from him. It is a Big Lie being embraced to advance a racist, anti-democratic agenda. Anyone who doesn't stand up to that Big Lie today would have likely been complicit in Hitler's Big Lie last century. Anyone who actually believes Trump's Big Lie ... do I need to finish that sentence?

A lot of prominent Republicans who are trying to worm their way around this issue by not quite saying they believe the Big Lie, but rather that it is somehow validated by the fact that many other people agree with it. Shortly before Trump egged on his supporters to storm the Capitol on Jan. 6, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas argued that America should rely on a white nationalist precedent to resolve the election (presumably in Trump's favor) because "recent polling shows that 39 percent of Americans believe the election that just occurred, quote, was rigged. You may not agree with that assessment. But it is nonetheless a reality for nearly half the country."

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas made a similar argument one month later. In a dissent about a case regarding the use of mail-in ballots in the swing state of Pennsylvania, Thomas wrote that "an election free from strong evidence of systemic fraud is not alone sufficient for election confidence," but that people on the losing side of an election need "the assurance that fraud will not go undetected." Never mind that there is literally no evidence that mail-in voting being particularly susceptible to fraud. Thomas' argument was essentially the same as Cruz's: Even if there isn't evidence of fraud, if one side claims the other side might have stolen an election, that's enough to justify making it harder for the other side to vote.

Let's call these things what they are: Attempts by Republican officials to exploit Trump's Big Lie to create permanent Republican rule, but without quite saying that they agree with the Big Lie itself. But even if such prominent Republicans don't flat-out say that the Big Lie is true, refusing to denounce it emboldens more people to believe it — and emboldens policymakers to change society based around it.


John Boehner doesn't deserve a rehabilitation tour: Mayor of GOP's "Crazytown" sparked rise of Trum

John Boehner doesn't deserve a rehabilitation tour: Mayor of GOP's "Crazytown" sparked rise of Trump
The former speaker wants to remake himself into a respected elder statesman, but he helped turn the GOP radical

John Boehner is clearly worried about his legacy. The former Republican speaker of the House is on a mission to rehabilitate his image and position himself as a noble, principled conservative who is at odds with the current slate of bug-eyed Donald Trump enthusiasts and lying Dr. Seuss trolls. He's recently published "On the House: A Washington Memoir" and is on the media circuit, both heavily promoting the book and this cockamamie notion that Trump and other trollish Republicans like Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas or Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida represent some big departure from a more dignified conservatism that Boehner claims to represent.

"I don't even think I could get elected in today's Republican Party anyway. I don't think Ronald Reagan could either," Boehner writes in excerpts quoted by the Washington Post. He also claims that "I'm not sure I belonged to the Republican Party [Trump] created

This is —and it cannot be stated firmly enough — a stinking pile of horse-generated plant fertilizer.

Ronald Reagan was a proto-Trump figure, a B-list Hollywood celebrity who got elected riding a wave of white grievance by making barely coded racist overtures. That is why people like Boehner loved Reagan so much, and why they remade the Republican Party into the perfect vehicle for Trump, a sociopathic narcissist whose racism and sexism was even less coded than the brand that Reagan was peddling.

Boehner has been grabbing headlines lately by dunking, in often incredibly entertaining ways, on Trump and Cruz, who Boehner instructed to "go f*ck yourself" in the audio recording of the book. But as fun as all this is, no one should be fooled. Boehner is one of the main architects of the version of the GOP he dubs "Crazytown" in his book, a Republican party that is oriented around bigotry and trolling — and completely uninterested in anything resembling good governance.


Federal Judge Argues Media Is A 'Threat To Democracy' And Anti-GOP

Federal Judge Argues Media Is A 'Threat To Democracy' And Anti-GOP
Judge Laurence Silberman sits on the influential D.C. appeals court

Of particular note, the 85-year-old Reagan appointee's comments were directed at companies not even involved in the case at hand. Apparently, he just felt like spewing some right-wing nonsense in a dissent, one person calling it a "gratuitous tangent."

Source: Bloomberg News:

A conservative judge on the influential federal appeals court in Washington used his dissent in a defamation case to lambaste most U.S. media outlets for trumpeting “shocking” anti-Republican views and call for libel laws to be revised to make it easier to sue the press.

The New York Times and The Washington Post are “virtually Democratic Party broadsheets,” while the news section of the Wall Street Journal “leans in the same direction,” U.S. Circuit Judge Laurence Silberman said. He said the major television outlets and Silicon Valley giants were similarly biased.

“One-party control of the press and media is a threat to a viable democracy,” Silberman wrote. He exempted from his criticism of “Democratic ideological control” Fox News, The New York Post, and The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page. But he lamented that these outlets are “controlled by a single man and his son,” a reference to Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch, and questioned how long they could hold out.

“After all, there are serious efforts to muzzle Fox News,” the Reagan appointee wrote, without elaborating.


What a mess -- Maureen Dowd lectures liberals about the press

What a mess — Maureen Dowd lectures liberals about the press

Anxious to engage in Both Sides whitewashing of journalism failures from the Trump era, some prominent journalists are lashing out at liberals for having the nerve to criticize news coverage of the Biden White House. Leading the defensive charge is New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, who penned a condescending harangue https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/27/opinion/sunday/democrats-media-tanden.html#click=https://t.co/tg0lmEBTl5 over the weekend, claiming liberals are hypocrites for finding fault with the press when a Democrat is in the Oval Office.

Embracing a straw man argument that Democrats "lionized" the media during the Trump years because they detested him so much, Dowd insists the left is guilty of hypocrisy because they can't take it when the media's critical lens focuses on Democrats. "The truth is, many on the left don’t understand what a reporter is," Dowd lectured Times readers, most of whom know exactly what a reporter is.

Dowd's scolding was immediately picked up by other elite journalists on Twitter, who lent their voices to the idea that liberals don't understand how journalism works, and mocked Democrats for thinking the press should not hold their party accountable. (Spoiler: Zero Democrats actually think that.) By embracing that absurd claim, journalists feel free to dismiss criticism from the left, because they say it's not based in reality. That's a convenient dodge and it's also delusional.

First off, if Dowd thinks liberals spent four years lionizing the New York Times for its Trump coverage, then the Beltway bubble she lives in is even more impenetrable and remote than I thought. Progressives for years were rightly fuming over the Times' forced timidity when covering Trump — the paper's failure to call out his lies, its never-ending attempt to normalize his radical behavior, and the daily's relentless, fawning coverage of Trump voters, who were depicted as the true voice of authentic America — not the backbone for a looming insurrection.

Secondly, the idea that after four years of watching the Trump media circus, liberals think Beltway journalists are on their side, as Dowd claims, is beyond comical. Liberals understand perfectly well how this game is played and are under no illusions that the Times is doing the Democrats' bidding. In fact, quite the opposite.


McConnell asks the Supreme Court to obliterate the Voting Rights Act


There is an avalanche of new voting restrictions being imposed by Republican legislators across the country. When Popular Information covered this issue in February, the Brennan Center had identified 165 bills to restrict voting rights across 33 states. Less than a month later, the group has identified 253 bills to restrict voting rights in 43 states. These bills would impose a variety of measures to make voting harder, including reducing opportunities for early voting, limiting the use of mail-in ballots, eliminating drop boxes, and imposing new voter ID requirements.


On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear a new case that could dismantle what's left of the law. The case, Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, concerns an Arizona law passed in 2016. The law required that ballots cast in the wrong precinct be thrown out entirely — even if the votes for statewide candidates were perfectly valid. It also prohibited anyone other than an immediate family member or caretaker from helping someone return an absentee ballot.

The Democratic Party sued, arguing that the policies resulted in discrimination. Specifically, "Latino, Native American, and Black voters in Arizona have their ballots rejected for being out-of-precinct reason far more often than their white counterparts." The party argued this was "because poll locations were moved around very frequently in Arizona’s communities of color." The Democratic Party noted also noted that Native Americans residing on reservations needed more assistance returning their ballots because they "often reside far from polling places and have nontraditional addresses and limited mail access.


In an amicus brief submitted to the court, McConnell, Cruz, and eight other Republican Senators lay out a vision where states can restrict the time, place, and manner of voting in whatever way they want — regardless of the impact it has on minority communities.

Yet Respondents urge, and the Ninth Circuit below adopted, an interpretation of VRA §2 that jeopardizes legitimate voting laws across the country. The Ninth Circuit held that any neutral voting law “results” in an unequal “opportunity” to vote “on account of race or color” whenever a plaintiff identifies some minimal statistical racial disparity related to the law—and then points to completely separate, long past, invidious voting discrimination… Nevertheless, the Ninth Circuit’s VRA §2 interpretation would eviscerate scores of legitimate time, place, and manner voting laws that prevent and deter fraud.

In other words, McConnell and Cruz want to allow states to have free reign to change the "time, place, and manner" of voting, even if those changes have a disparate impact on minority voters. They claim that such changes "prevent and deter fraud" but, like Trump, present no evidence to justify that claim.


The Supreme Court Is Not Finished With Elections

The Supreme Court Is Not Finished With Elections
The justices are about to consider whether the Voting Rights Act applies to policies that restrict the vote.

When the Supreme Court on Monday rejected Pennsylvania Republicans’ after-the-fact effort to invalidate late-arriving mailed ballots, it was tempting to suppose that the country’s courthouse doors had finally closed on this most litigated of presidential elections.

If only it were that simple.


But the three justices who would have accepted the cases — Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch — issued dissenting opinions that provide both a road map and a rationale for the Supreme Court’s future intervention in the quintessentially state matter of how to conduct elections.

Remember Bush v. Gore, the case that decided the 2000 presidential election, in which five justices voted to overturn the Florida Supreme Court’s handling of a statewide recount? That decision was based on a theory of equal protection so wacky that the majority opinion insisted that “our consideration is limited to the present circumstances” — that is to say, don’t dare invoke this poor excuse for an opinion as a precedent.


He went on to warn that fraud was “more prevalent with mail-in ballots,” citing as evidence a 1994 Federal District Court case, an article in this newspaper from 2012 and the 2018 Republican ballot-harvesting fraud in North Carolina. Such occurrences, he said, raise “the likelihood that courts will be asked to adjudicate questions that go to the heart of election confidence.” This was the reason, he argued, that the Supreme Court should have taken and decided the Pennsylvania cases before the next election cycle.


We are fortunate that many of the cases we have seen alleged only improper rule changes, not fraud. But that observation provides only small comfort. An election free from strong evidence of systemic fraud is not alone sufficient for election confidence. Also important is the assurance that fraud will not go undetected.

In other words, Justice Thomas would have it both ways: If there was fraud, the court needed to intervene, and if there was no fraud, the court needed to intervene because the fraud might simply be undetected. Despite his disclaimer, the entire structure of his opinion, suggesting that something bad had happened even if no one could prove it, is fairly read as validating the essence of the Trump narrative.


Media tries to "both sides" an insurrection: No, anger over the Capitol riot isn't "partisan rancor

Media tries to "both sides" an insurrection: No, anger over the Capitol riot isn't "partisan rancor"
The Washington Post ran a "both sides do it" headline — but only the GOP is tacitly supporting Trump's failed coup

The endless mainstream media urge to cast any and every partisan conflict in "both sides do it" terms — no matter how one-sided any conflict actually is — hit a shocking new low on Friday morning when the Washington Post ran this front-page headline: "Congress hits new levels of partisan rancor."

The Post's appalling headline really underscores the mainstream media's slavish dedication to false equivalence. It minimizes the growing Republican support for the violent insurrection of January 6 and the continued Democratic anger over those events as merely a partisan spat. Readers who clicked the story saw more of the casual equation between the intended victims of the mob Donald Trump sent to the Capitol and Trump's supporters with the internal headline: "Hostility between congressional Republicans and Democrats reaches new lows amid growing fears of violence." The headline manages to insinuate that both parties are rolling out the welcome mat for violence — when truly, it's only the Republicans.


But really, the deeper issue is a moral vacuity of framing a violent attempt to overthrow the government as if it's an everyday horse race story. The disagreement between Democratic and Republican voters about the wisdom of armed insurrection isn't mere partisan bickering. American democracy is in very real danger of collapse, especially as one party continues to conspire with the president who leveraged violence in his effort to stage a coup. Addressing this as if it were the equivalent to a partisan spat over tax rates is a dereliction of journalistic duty.


Trump's insurrection efforts failed, but this is not an excuse to minimize the situation. On the contrary, failure to take it seriously makes it that much easier for Republican leadership to continue conspiring with the people — especially Trump — most responsible for the insurrection. The more support from Republican leaders that Trump and others with fascist tendencies get, the likelier it is that the next attempt to overthrow the government will succeed. Only one side, the Republicans, has insurrectionists and leaders who support them. Media outlets need to not mince words when saying so.

Buying off fascist voters

Buying off fascist voters
What Josh Hawley is teaching us.

Josh Hawley is the junior US senator from Missouri. He made news this morning, saying he’d help the president in his attempt to stay in power by objecting to the certification of electors on Jan. 6. That means the US Senate will debate the merits of the allegations, which are nil, before voting to approve the Electoral College vote.

Hawley is expected to be one of the leading GOP candidates in the 2024 election. The conventional wisdom says he’s doing this to get as much attention as he can from Donald Trump’s loyalest supporters. While I’m usually skeptical of the conventional wisdom, I think it’s right this time. Hawley isn’t going to the wall for Trump. In the end, he’ll vote to approve Joe Biden’s victory. This is sound and fury, but also nothing.

What’s interesting, I think, is Hawley’s opposition to Mitch McConnell—or at least the appearance of opposition. The Senate majority leader does not want to go through this song and dance, but inst7ead get on with the business of sabotaging the new president’s administration. McConnell knows Hawley’s gambit will fail, and fears failing to stop what the president is calling a stolen election might harm Kelly Loeffler’s and David Perdue’s reelection prospects, which will determine which party controls the Senate.

Hawley opposes, or at least appears to oppose, McConnell is another way. The top congressional Republican does not support giving each American $2,000 per month in covid-related economic relief, because Americans who are suffering are more likely to blame the guy in charge, which is to say Joe Biden, than they are the Republican Party. McConnell did the same thing to Barack Obama. When the former president asked the Republicans for help rebuilding America in the wake of the 2007-2008 financial panic, McConnell said his first priority was making sure Obama was a one-term president.


A 20-Year-Old GOP Strategy Drew the Road Map for Trump's Attempted Coup

A 20-Year-Old GOP Strategy Drew the Road Map for Trump’s Attempted Coup
Why George W. Bush succeeded where Trump failed


Writing in The Atlantic, Zeynep Tufecki captured the sentiments of many when she argued that Trump is “establishing a playbook for stealing elections by mobilizing executive, judicial, and legislative power to support the attempt.” A smarter politician will have greater success, or so the argument goes.

But, in reality, that playbook is well-established and has already been executed.

It was 20 years ago this week that the Supreme Court issued its decision in Bush v. Gore, effectively handing the presidency to George W. Bush for an election he quite likely did not win.

The 2000 election was the most contested and narrowly decided presidential vote in more than 120 years. Bush lost the popular vote by half a million votes to his opponent, Vice President Al Gore, and his margin of victory in the decisive state of Florida was a mere 537 votes.

It's almost certain that more people in Florida intended to vote for Gore, and had all the state’s votes been counted, Democrats would have kept control of the White House. But due to an aggressive, take-no-prisoners approach by Republicans, as well as the unprecedented intervention of the United States Supreme Court, the doomsaying predictions of 2020 came true two decades ago.


Arguably, the primary reason why secretaries of state like Brad Raffensperger in Georgia did not act like Katherine Harris and federal judges did not invoke Bush v. Gore in helping Trump’s legal effort is that the election simply wasn’t close enough to steal.

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